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William Henry Price

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William Henry Price (c1829-1905)

1906 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM HENRY PRICE, whose name will always be identified with the port of Karachi, died at Southsea on the 17th April, 1905, in his seventy-seventh year.

The elder son of the late Dr. J. Roberts Price, he was educated at Enniskillen and at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in Arts, and after gaining extensive experience on public works in Ireland, he was appointed in 1855 to the Public Works Department of Bombay.

Between 1855 and 1860 he was employed on irrigation works in Sind.

Early in the latter year he was selected to take charge of the Karachi harbour-works, then about to be commenced, and his subsequent career is indissolubly bound up with the history of the port. When work was begun at Karachi, the sand-bar across the entrance was a source of constant and serious difficulty; the channel was shallow, narrow and tortuous; while the space within the harbour was very restricted, necessitating the use of small boats for transferring passengers and cargo to and from the shore.

Thirty years later Mr. Price left Karachi one of the finest harbours in India, and a monument to his devoted industry, skill and resource. The entrance channel is straight, of ample width, and of depth sufficient to allow of the passage of the largest liners, the deep-water area inside is greatly enlarged, and extensive pier and quay accommodation, well equipped with modern appliances and storage facilities, have been provided. This result has been attained by a continuous series of improvement works, such as the native jetty, the Napier Mole bridge, the Eastern groyne, the Merewether pier, the Erskine wharf and the Manora breakwater, all of which were carried out under Mr. Price’s personal direction.

For his services in connection with the last-named important and difficult work, a description of which was presented by him to the Institution in 1875, he received special commendation and a grant from the Government of India.

He retired from the Government service in 1879, but continued in charge of the harbour-works, as Engineer to the Harbour Board, and subsequently to the Port Trust, until his return to England in 1890. Even then his connection with Karachi did not cease, as he was appointed by the Port Trust their Consulting Engineer in England, an appointment which he retained until his death.

Besides the Paper which he contributed to the Proceedings of this Institution, Mr. Price was the author of several monographs on engineering subjects, which appeared in various technical publications.

Not the least noteworthy circumstance in his long and arduous career is that much of his work was accomplished under a severe physical disability, unsparing exertions and constant exposure in Upper Sind having resulted in paralysis, which deprived him of the use of his lower limbs. Notwithstanding this loss, he continued to personally superintend the work from a chair, or boat, or trolley, his indomitable spirit and mental energy so triumphing over bodily infirmities as to leave his usefulness and professional activity wholly unimpaired. Organising and executive ability, and a spirit which infected associates and subordinates with its steady enthusiasm and devotion to duty, were his distinguishing characteristics, and all that he did bore evidence of his 'infinite capacity for taking pains.'

Mr. Price was elected a Member of the Institution on the 5th December, 1865.

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